Kentucky Man Arrested for Posting Exodus Lyrics On Facebook
Update, 11:43 am: Evans has now been released after spending eight days in prison. The case is going to be deferred for six months while he undergoes a psychiatric evaluation (seriously). Says Evans:
“It’s nonsense. I feel like my civil rights have been violated. You know first amendment freedom of speech out the window. Even all the guys I was in the cell with they thought it was nonsense themselves. I had several officials tell me it was nonsense that there was no reason why I should have even been here.”
Thanks to reader Zach W. for letting us know. Original story follows:
Today in “Reasons Not to Live in Kentucky”: according to a local NBC affiliate, thirty-one-year-old Muhlenberg County resident James Evans has been arrested for “terroristic threatening” after posting some of the lyrics to Exodus’ “Class Dismissed (A Hate Primer)” on Facebook. Specifically, the lines
Student bodies lying dead in the halls, a blood splattered treatise of hate
Class dismissed is my hypothesis, gun fire ends in debate
According to Muhlenberg County school resource officer Mike Drake, Evans was arrested after “multiple agencies received calls concerned about the post.” Evans’ arrest warrant alleges that “he threatened to kill students and or staff at school.”
While I certainly understand the concern for possible school shootings in this day and age (or any shootings, really), I can’t see how this isn’t a total violation of Evans’ First Amendment rights. (Even from a security standpoint, surely, someone could have questioned Evans and done a background check before jumping right to an arrest which will end up on his personal record, right?) And apparently, neither can Exodus. Founding guitarist Gary Holt says via a press release:
“The idea that an individual in this great country of ours could be arrested for simply posting lyrics to a song is something I never believed could happen in a free society. James Evans was simply posting lyrics to a band he likes on Facebook, and he was locked up for it. The song ‘Class Dismissed (A Hate Primer)’ was written as a view through the eyes of a madman and in no way endorses that kind of fucked up behavior. It was the Virginia Tech massacre perpetrated by Seung-Hui Cho that was the subject and inspiration to write the song, one in which we put the brakes on playing it live after the Sandy Hook shooting, as we did not want to seem insensitive.
“As some of us in Exodus are parents, of course these things hit close to home, it’s every parent’s worst fear. These moments are the stuff of nightmares, and life, as well as music, isn’t always pretty. But when we start to overreact to things like lyrics by any band, including Exodus, and start arresting people, we are caving in to paranoia and are well on our way to becoming an Orwellian society.”
So this is all very depressing and scary. So much so that I hardly know what to say about it. Did I mention that it’s a bad idea to live in Kentucky?